I know I'm a little late with my opinion here, but since this will be an ongoing story throughout the season, I felt compelled to write a post about it.
Bobby Valentine said this about Kevin Youkilis:
"I don't think he's as physically or emotionally into the game as he has been in the past for some reason."
Then Youkilis said this in response:
"That's not what I see. I go out every day and play as hard as I can. I take every ground ball in the morning, take every at-bat like it's my last. I don't think my game has changed at all. I still get upset with myself and still get mad. That's just not how I go about my game of baseball. Never have, never will."
Then Dustin Pedroia added:
"I know that Youk plays as hard as anybody I've ever seen in my life. I have his back, and his teammates have his back. We know how hard he plays. I don't really understand what Bobby's trying to do. But that's really not the way we go about our stuff here. I'm sure he'll figure that out soon.
"Maybe in Japan or something... Over here in the U.S., we're on a three-game winning streak, we want to feel good and keep it rolling. We feel we have a good team and we've just got to get each other's backs and play together. Because if you don't do that, I don't care what sport you're playing, you're not going to win."
What really bugs me is that three guys who work together, practice together, travel together, and stay in the same hotel on the road together are now using the media to communicate. That's just weird. It's like two people talking to each other through a third mutual friend. Tell Bobby I said this. Tell Dustin I said this.
Actually, it's more like people who use their Facebook status as a way to publicly vent to all the world about one specific person.
That's what Valentine brings, though. He thinks he's the Master Media Manipulator, and that he can use the sports media as a managerial tool. He thinks he can motivate slackers with comments like this.
Good luck with that. It never works as well as you think it will. As this current incident is thoroughly demonstrating. And it's never panned out for Bobby in the past. But Bobby probably blames somebody else for that. Or maybe now he thinks he's learned how to do it right.
However, using the media as a tool does seem to fit in with the Red Sox organization and how they conduct business. Just as Terry Francona. Pedro Martinez. Johnny Damon. Nomar Garciaparra. Et cetera.
I think the way Bill Belichick treats the media is the wisest way to do it. Give them nothing, then they have nothing to use against your interests. The media is like a rabid chimpanzee. It's dangerous. Valentine thinks he can tame it and use it as a weapon. But it's smarter to just stay away. Because it will turn on you in a heartbeat.
There is no advantage gained by trying to do anything through the media. And I know baseball isn't football, but Francona didn't give the media anything either. Everything was kept "in house." And I think that's the best place to keep things.
But Valentine overestimates his own abilities. He thinks he is the most important man in a Red Sox uniform. He isn't. No baseball manager is. He thinks he can harness the rabid chimpanzee.
In some weird way, I kind of admire Bobby's desire to fix every little problem the Sox are having. He wanted to see Youkilis start hitting. So he did something about it. But I have serious reservations with how he went about attempting to "motivate" him. And the fact is, Kevin Youkilis is the best person to get Kevin Youkilis back to his old form. Valentine doesn't know his limitations. He doesn't even recognize that he has any.
Even though Valentine apologized, expect more stories with similar tone to this one. Bobby cannot resist. He's addicted to himself. He cannot turn down an opportunity to be responsible for something. He invented the wrap. He'll take responsibility for Sox losses, he'll also take credit for wins. I'm sure he'll even take credit for the nice weather we had today.